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Can the EPL Break the Barrier of 2 Million Viewers in the US on FOX This Sunday?

The excitement and anticipation that’s building in the lead up to the first ever live broadcast of a Premier League match on free-to-air U.S. network television this Sunday is palpable. Even The Guardian is adding to the hype today in an interview with EPL Talk alumni Richard Farley. But Sunday’s match-up is pivotal for several key reasons:

1. Will the title decider for this season’s Premier League actually be the early game between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur instead of Arsenal versus Manchester United? We won’t know the answer until later this season, but it could be argued that Arsenal and Manchester United may become the old guard of the Big Four in England, while City and Spurs are the new guard.

2. Can Rob Stone, who will be making his debut for FOX, add an emotional connection between the viewer and the presenters and pundits on FOX that Christian Miles wasn’t able to achieve? Let’s hope that instead of the stuffy and very scripted feel to the telecasts that we’re used to seeing from FOX, that Stone will be able to breathe fresh air into the programming, something that Ian Darke and Steve McManaman do weekly for ESPN.

3. Can FOX’s live telecast of Arsenal against Manchester United beat the record number of viewers for a Premier League match on US television? The current record is 1.67 million who watched the Chelsea against Liverpool game, on tape delay, in November, 2011. There should be more Arsenal and Manchester United supporters watching, but the biggest difference will be the mainstream audience. Will they tune in to this game before the NFL championship game between San Francisco and New York Giants?

4. How will the team of Rob Stone, Piers Morgan and Eric Wynalda do? FOX finally has a smooth presenter who is very genuine in front of the camera, but he’ll be flanked by two very opinionated pundits, Morgan and Wynalda. If both pundits are given the latitude to speak their minds, it should be interesting to watch, to say the least.

5. Which city in England will reign supreme on Sunday? London or Manchester? Not that the bragging rights will be that important (the real importance is where the clubs finish at the end of the season), but it will be interesting to see if the balance of power, at least for a day, has shifted from one city to another.

6. Last, but perhaps most importantly, will Sunday’s match between Arsenal and Manchester United come close to breaking the 2011 Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United, which drew a record 2.6 million viewers on FOX? Sunday’s game between Arsenal and Manchester United, I believe, is a mere dress rehearsal (in terms of TV ratings) before the live broadcast of Chelsea against Manchester United on FOX scheduled for Super Bowl Sunday next month. But if FOX can get a good bump in viewing numbers from the 1.67 million it saw in November to more than 2 million for the Gunners against Red Devils on Sunday, this will be a huge achievement for FOX and soccer in the United States.

Martin Tyler and Alan Smith will be commentating the match. Let’s hope that the game itself lives up to the hype, for the growth of the sport in this country as well as the heightened interest in the Premier League around the world.

The coverage for the Arsenal against Man United match begins on FOX at 10:30am ET, with the match itself kicking off at 11am ET. The earlier game on Sunday will feature Manchester City versus Tottenham Hotspur at 8:30am ET on FOX Soccer.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Alex

    January 22, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I accidentally came across the game this morning, and it was a please surprise. I chatted it up on Facebook, and I’ll be spreading the word on Feb 5th.

    Some asked who would be up at 10AM glued to their TVs? American football fans. That’s who. In my hometown of Chicago, there’s a cult following of people who get up at 6 and 7 AM to hit up the few pubs who air EPL games over satellite TV.

    I hope this stays. I’ll definitely enjoy weekend mornings with the EPL and hopefully Champions League. Already looking forward to Euro Cup this summer.

  2. Sam

    January 22, 2012 at 2:50 am

    or Tommy Smyth and his onion bag.

  3. Sam

    January 22, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Lets just be thankful that max brettos is not there.

  4. Cantona

    January 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    he is struggling.. you can hear him slow down to say Tottenham and Swansea.. obviously he doesnt know these cities and clubs… I really wished they had have signed Matt Lorenzo.. he did a couple of cameos hosting the Champions League..to me he was a good fit.. now we have a grown up Christian Miles.. what a waste.. Fox could have really done so much better here.

    Cantona—

  5. Toonster

    January 21, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Not happy, here in North Carolina they have the game delayed too, i pay for all the soccer packages to be able to watch all the games live, and now im getting screwed so that a bunch of people with no interest can watch for 5 minutes while flipping between re-runs of the kardashians…

    • The Gaffer

      January 21, 2012 at 9:56 am

      I missed it! I’m so used to skipping FOX Soccer Match Day that I didn’t think to tune in to see Rob Stone’s debut. I typically watch the ESPN2 broadcast all the way up ’til 10am and then switch over to FOXSoccer.tv to watch Swansea City’s live match.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  6. Cantona

    January 21, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Rob Stone does not know the Premiership… watching matchday this morning… he keeps calling Norwich.. NOR-WITCH…. for the love of god can we get someone who is FAMILIAR with English football…

    Cantona—-

    update.. someone has corrected him after the break.. he has started saying it correctly.. POSER

  7. James

    January 21, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Piers Morgan even with his Arsenal bias is much more knowledgeable about soccer than Rob Stone. Just listen to them and you’ll see what I mean. Why can’t Fox hire someone knowledgeable, regardless of nationality, for their national coverage?

    • The Gaffer

      January 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Probably true, but that’s why Piers Morgan is a pundit while Rob Stone is the presenter. The presenter’s role is to defer to the subject matter experts and to keep the discussion going.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  8. freedumb

    January 21, 2012 at 6:31 am

    is anyone actually getting this game live? i am not, its on at 12.00 central. fox really c*cked this one up. super huge build up for a taped delay programm that everyone will hear the score for elsewhere before seeing the delayed broadcast. epic fail fox. i hate u. stick to crappy nfl and stop messing up the epl.

    • Todd

      January 21, 2012 at 11:37 am

      On the Direct TV guide it shows the 9:30-12:00 slot for the game where I’m at. Hope they ain’t lying!

  9. wxwax

    January 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Piers Morgan? Holy hell.

    Banish him. He has no business doing a football match. Let him go back to phone tapping and peeking up the skirts of celebrities. A cretin.

    • Sam

      January 22, 2012 at 2:47 am

      haha. Sounds like you hate him nearly as much as Jeremy Clarkson who punched him.

  10. Cantona

    January 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Im glad the Premiership is getting this opportunity for the US masses.. but I am still disappointed in their choice of Rob Stone.. he was absolutely clueless when he chimed in on ESPN’s Champions League coverage.. to the point of ignorance… a terrible decision by Fox.. I dont think Miles was any good either.. but to hire Stone.. we are not getting anything better. Look for Stone to really be “out of his element” if the banter goes “off script”…

    good to see Piers still there.. he seems to work.. Arsenal biased aside.

    I hope all goes well Sunday…

    Cantona—

  11. richardfromnyc

    January 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    So ESPN puts games on ESPN3 and with the exception of a few affiliates, Fox puts EPL live on National TV. Always thought the worst thing that could happen to EPL is if ESPN gained the majority of the rights.

    Never will forget a CL game on ESPN2 being pre-empted by a Cheerleading competition a few years back.

  12. Brett

    January 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    My local Fox affiliate is showing the game on an hour delay because it is airing a local church service instead. I guess that’s what happens when you live in the heart of Bible belt in the South.

    • Sam

      January 22, 2012 at 2:45 am

      but don’t they know…Jesus saves, Messi scores! lol.

  13. Tony

    January 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    ESPN has been frustrating me, not showing it’s selected games on ESPN2. Now FOX in the San Fran Bay Area is not scheduled to show this game, and since it’s not on FSC, that means I cannot watch it. Local Fox did not show the last game either (I forget which one it was).

    • The Gaffer

      January 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      KICU in San Francisco will be showing the game live, Tony.

      You raise a good point about ESPN (sorry for not replying earlier this week). That’s a positive about FOX Soccer. At least we know a game on that channel won’t get pre-empted or won’t be moved to a different channel like on ESPN.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  14. James

    January 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    On the issue raised by CTBlues. Gaffer, do you know why ESPN does not use ESPNU for example when it doesn’t show a game on ESPN2? ESPND is not free while ESPNU is free in most markets.

    • The Gaffer

      January 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      James, I don’t know the answer to that one, sorry. But you can post the question to them at http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?page=contact/index

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • CTBlues

        January 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm

        This is what I sent ESPN:

        “I was wondering why the last 2 EPL matches and tomorrows match have been on ESPN Deportes and not ESPN 2 or ESPNU? You are keeping English speaking people from seeing these games. My ISP does not have a contract with you so I cannot access ESPN3.com to see these games and I will not pay to get a Spanish TV package. Also these matches you “haven’t” been showing are of teams that are very popular.”

        This is the response I got from ESPN:

        Dear Ryan,

        Thank you for contacting ESPN.

        ESPN makes its programming decisions based on a number of factors, including viewership, as reflected by ratings and the interest from advertisers and affiliates, on a nationwide basis.

        We’ll be sure to let our programming executives know that our viewers would like to see more EPL coverage on our air.

        Sincerely,

        Patrick
        ESPN Viewer Response

  15. James

    January 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Nationally the live coverage is from 10:30 AM ET till 1 PM ET. Fortunately my Fox affiliate in CT is showing it at the regular time. I agree with the gaffer that if your Fox affiliate isn’t showing it live then you should contact them and complain. If enough people complain it might even make the news which will give even more publicity for the game.

    • The Gaffer

      January 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      I would also recommend tweeting the FOX stations about it so the complaints go viral. Post it on their Facebook walls too (most FOX affiliates have one). If any FOX stations are not showing the game live, that’s ridiculous.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  16. CTBlues

    January 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    We have FOX doing this and we have ESPN doing almost the opposite with the last 2 matches and 1 up coming match only being on ESPN Deportes.

  17. Brandon

    January 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Has anyone heard why the Atlanta fox affiliate is airing the game at 12:30 ET instead of live at 11:00? When I went to set up my DVR it said the game was at 12:30 and instead there will be 3 infomercials aired between 11 and 12:30. I am upset by this because as an Arsenal fan its hard for me to not watch the score when the game is airing live.

    • The Gaffer

      January 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      I would recommend calling them by phone at 404-875-5555 and asking why they aren’t showing it. Tell them that you’re very upset about their decision, so they know that viewers like yourself find the decision unacceptable.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  18. Todd

    January 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I’d like to think it’d break the record, but not having a tape delay may hurt its chances. 10am on a Saturday in America, how many people are glued to their tv’s outside of EPL fans?

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